Congratulations to 2011 PCW DUX (ATAR 99.3) Nina Hooper, on your acceptance to study Astro Physics at Harvard University. Nina has written the following story about her journey at PCW...
I began at Presentation College Windsor in term 2 of 2006. After having encountered bullying and a school that was happy to neglect students who were ‘different’ in the first term, it was a relief to arrive at PCW, where diversity was fostered and I was encouraged to be myself.
In the years I spent at PCW I went through a lot of major changes that have really defined the person I am today. I made friends, and changed groups and found myself through trial and error with the support of those around me. By the time I graduated in November of 2011, I really felt like PCW was a second home and that the teachers and students were like extended family.
Looking back I think of school traditions such as Presentation Day and Music Festival, where the whole school magically came together and created something brilliant. I think of all the hundreds of times I sung our school song ‘This Is Our Presentation’ and the last time I sang it, tears in the eyes of everyone around me, on the night of my graduation.
Although I heard many things about VCE - how stressful and difficult it is - both from those who completed it before me and those in my own year, I really enjoy my final year. My favourite subjects being Physics and Specialist Maths, I also studied Chemistry, Italian, Math Methods, Extension Maths through Melbourne University and English and learnt to value each of them for what they could teach me. Despite being Music Captain and Social Justice Captain, I managed to mitigate and manage my stress to a point where it did not adversely affect me. I strongly believe that stress does nothing but make a difficult situation worse and thus there is no point in subjecting myself to it.
After completing high school, I continued to take exams and write essays with the intention to apply to university in the United States. To my delight and surprise, I was not only accepted to Harvard University, but was given early notification of my admission decision as an ‘outstanding applicant’ and a full scholarship to the value of $65,000 per year. I begin my degree there in September of 2012 and will be studying astrophysics and entrepreneurship.
My ultimate goal is to become a NASA Astronaut, something which I am constantly working towards not only with my degree but also through flight training and a number of other things. I am also still very motivated to make an impact on this world in a social justice capacity, something that being at PCW affirmed in me.
Having spent six glorious, exciting, emotional, growing years at PCW, I can confidently say that I ended up at the right school. Not every single day was perfect, there were days when I wanted to give up and walk away, others when I was frustrated and irritable, but even during the worst times, there was always someone around who could make me smile and make me feel cared for. These are the kind of qualities that are often overlooked by parents who want their kids to be in a school with high standardised test scores, but ones that should not be. Even the most brilliant students will sometimes doubt themselves - without the kind of support given at PCW, they have no chance of reaching their full potential.
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